Medicine Cabinet Check-up
March 30, 2014

Medicine Cabinet Check-Up

The Stay Well blog, a part of Walgreens website, publishes articles about different health-related issues. Recently, one seemed very helpful on a pragmatic level. The blog discusses information about what over-the-counter meds we should keep in our medicine cabinets, as well as other tips about home medicine storage and such. The information was so helpful that I thought maybe redOrbit health readers would be interested as well.

Let’s start with information about storing meds – be they over the counter or prescription. The Stay Well blog links to a MedlinePlus article that provides the following advice:

  • Keep medicines in a cool, dry, secure place.
  • Refill prescriptions monthly to insure their potency.
  • Always store drugs out of children’s reach.
  • Always keep medicines in their original container.
  • Don’t leave the cotton plug in a medicine bottle. This can draw moisture into the container.
  • Check the expiration date each time you take a drug. Replace any medications that are out of date.
  • Never use a medication that has changed color, texture, or odor, even if it has not expired. Throw away capsules or tablets that stick together, are harder or softer than normal, or are cracked or chipped.
  • Ask your pharmacist about any specific storage instructions.

Additionally, Stay Well provides suggestions about five over-the-counter meds that all homes should have at all times.

First, we should have pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. It is also important that we make sure that we take pain relievers that will not mix negatively with our prescription meds. Furthermore, we should also have a variety of pain relievers for fever and inflammation.

Next, we should keep stuff for indigestion and diarrhea such as bismuth subsalicylate, otherwise known as Pepto-Bismol, or chewable antacids. Each serves its purpose although bismuth subsalicylate addresses several stomach issues from upset stomach to diarrhea and even indigestion. Personally, I also keep probiotics, papaya, and Alka-Seltzer or other aspirin effervescent tablets. Plus, I always have yogurt with the proper probiotics.

Third, Stay Well suggests having over-the-counter meds for cold, flu, and allergy symptoms. This includes antihistamines, cough and cold lozenges, and cough and flu syrups. Plus, having teas, zinc, and vitamin c helps as well.

The fourth group suggested is ointments and creams. Having hydrocortisone creams, antibiotic ointment, and vitamin e ointment can really help with issues from minor skin inflammations, itching, rashes, cuts, scrapes, and burns.

Fifth, the article suggests having specific first aid supplies. Having different sizes and shapes of Band-Aids and gauze pads are good ideas. Plus, any good medicine cabinet should have antiseptic wipes, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol. Finally, any good first aid supplies would have at least a good oral thermometer.

The Stay Well article ended with tips on how to get the most from our medicine cabinets:

  • Always follow the directions on medicine labels, and never exceed the labeled recommended doses
  • If you have questions, ask your pharmacist or other health care provider.
  • Keep medicines in a safe location, away from a child’s reach or sight.
  • Check expiration dates. If a medicine is expired, dispose it properly by taking it to a take-back program location or mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and put it in a sealed, nondescript container, like an empty can or sealable plastic bag. Then throw containers in the trash.
  • Be aware of the possibility that even OTC drugs can interact with prescription medicines.

Though most of us probably have good medicine cabinets, it is still good to consider and make sure, which is exactly what I did.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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